“Doctor, He’s Regaining Consciousness” (part 2)

Posted by: David

In Part 1, we laid out a foundation of how someone initially sees something in our mountaintop scene example: various simple external (colors, shapes, temperatures) and internal (associated memories and emotions) inputs excite communities of neurons to create a vision. But how do we come to see it? This is a piece of the puzzle that will certainly be the most difficult to comprehend, even though right before our eyes we are seeing something right now.

If it is as simple as forces exciting an array or community of neurons that allows us to see, then what if you excite a community of molecules in a brick, are they going to see something? If this could be done, well, maybe. Let’s go down the food chain and see what the less complex organisms may ‘see’ from their senses. This is going to be very hypothetical, of course.

  • Dog: colors, shapes, motion, smells, sounds, etc. (not too much different than us)
  • Lizard: probably similar to the dog but with different emphases
  • Ant: light, shape, chemistry, sound
  • Ameboid: light(?), temperature, chemical shifts
  • Bacteria: temperature, chemical shifts
  • Virus: simple environmental characteristics
  • Water molecule: magnetic variations

I’ve added water molecule because I wanted you to notice something rather interesting. Each of the organisms or semi-organisms listed above reactto their environment and to some degree ‘see’ or have some degree of awareness of their surrounding environment, whether it is simple light or complex dimensional space. The reaction they have to the stimulus is generated because of what they experience (or what may be better described as a general awareness). Is it any different for a water molecule or any other molecule for that matter? If some sort of reaction is going on, even if it is done rotely, then there should be some sort of awareness going on. And since every last thing in our universe reacts to forces, it very well may be that every last thing and collection of things has some sort of ability to ‘see’ or be aware of its environment however primitive that awareness may be.

We can also go up the scale and do the same thing: earth, solar system, galaxy and universe. Now, I wouldn’t be so quick to say that a complex system such as the earth, solar system or the universe has awareness like we do. It is probably the case that awareness types shift depending on their complexity level and the forces that influence them. Since the planets hold their orbits very precisely, it is probably the case that gravity is the most simple force that affects them, so their ability to see might be more like that of a water molecule. However, it may be that even though the force that affects these greater systems is simple, the grand scale of the influence may affect how they see in some special way. There’s just no way to know, I suppose. However, the point is that it is possible that what we consider to be ‘seeing’, or even some attributes that we associate only with life, should be applied to inorganic organizations such as a galaxy.

Another issue not to be discussed in this entry is time. Each of the groups should have a different perception of time, because their snapshots of their environment hold differing sets of data. And time is also dependent on memory. I’d venture to say that modern humans may have one of the relatively broadest grasps of time because of our language and more particularly our writing.

I’ll also mention briefly the issue of deep sleep and passing out. If all organisms and matter have some sort of awareness, why do we go ‘dark’ when we go into deep sleep? Isn’t that a simple example of how we at some moments in time do not have any awareness? I expect that the reason we don’t see anything during deep sleep, is simply because we’re not remembering it. The experience we have in deep sleep or unconscousness is so foreign from our general awake awareness that it doesn’t fit into our memories. But we should return to our topic of seeing and awareness.

From here on out, I’ll closely associate the word awareness with what I am describing as ‘seeing’ above. I expect that most of you would not argue that a dog has awareness of his environment, but that you would argue that a rock would have nothing more than zero-level of awareness. I’m not saying that a rock has a strong awareness of its environment, but it does react to gravity and other forces ever so slightly, doesn’t it?

What if a water molecule is aware of magnetic forces? That still doesn’t explain how something sees. To look at this fairly, let’s go back to the human experience, because that’s what we all can relate to best. So, what is the mind’s eye? Honestly, I have no real good answer. But I will venture to say that it may be a type of force. Yes, that sounds sort of hocus-pocus or like I’m stealing some dialogue from OB1 Kenobi in Star Wars. But we haven’t even touched on forces yet. We’ve talked a lot about matter (life forms and other stuff) and force is the other side the equation, isn’t it? You know, E=MC2, energy (force) equals matter times the speed of light2. But how is seeing a force?

“Cooookies!”

For those of you who watched Sesame Street, you’ll know the Cookie Monster. When he saw cookies, he gobbled them up ravenously. So, let’s blindfold the Cookie Monster and lay a plate of delicious chocolate chip cookies in front of him. Initially, he won’t apply one ounce of directed force toward those cookies. However, once his nose gets a whiff, his mind will remember (consciously or unconsciously) the taste and pleasure of those cookies. He will rip off his blindfold and violently attack the plate of cookies until the last crumb is gone. He’ll probably even eat the plate. It was the smell that triggered his memory, but it was his awareness of the cookies that sent him into wild-cookie passion. His vision was the impetus, the force.

If you didn’t follow this flimsy, yet-possibly-true argument, I’ll lay it out in succinct words: All things in the universe have some degree of awareness and the awareness that these things have is what we call force. I’ll add that no forces are left out, whether it be the driving force to eat delicious chocolate chip cookies, or the gravity that holds a planet in its orbit. All forces may be derived from awareness. And it’s not magic. It may just be the way our wonderful universe works.

The awareness that humans have is probably very different than that of a planet or a hydrogen atom. The reason is choice. The earth can’t choose whether or not it goes clockwise or counterclockwise around the sun. But we can choose whether we go right or left when we hit the sidewalk. Some may argue that we don’t really have any choice—that we are preprogrammed—but I choose not to believe that line of thinking.

This takes us to our next topic where we differentiate between awareness and consciousness. Let’s leave that for Part 3.

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2 Comments

Filed under Consciousness

2 responses to ““Doctor, He’s Regaining Consciousness” (part 2)

  1. mhz1936

    In your initial paragraphs you talk about “seeing”; I think it might work out better if you talk about “perceptions.” I think, technically, you have the sequence: trigger, sensation, perception….
    You seem to be talking about sensing and reacting, rather than “seeing.” (more later)

  2. David

    I’m using ‘seeing’, notice the single quotes, but your right I’m speaking of perceptions, awareness, etc.

    I like the word seeing, because I think people ‘see’ even if they don’t have eyes. I know when I’m fumbling through the dark to find something, I get a general ‘vision’ not with my eyes of the space that surrounds me. So, I expect it’s the same for organisms that don’t have light perception. They get a sense of their surriondings. And ultimately, where I’m getting at is that all matter does the same thing. In fact, it may be that all the knowledge that we have actually clouds and dims our picture of reality. Our perceptions and ‘seeing’ is dim (many-fold) compared with organism that are more simple, mainly because we are so heady.

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